N.J. State Legislator Proposes Sports Betting Bill Despite Rejection By U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday “declined to review the federal ban on sports betting, setting the stage for a showdown between the Department of Justice and state lawmakers bent on bringing the practice to New Jersey casinos and racetracks,” according to Reuben Kramer of the ATLANTIC CITY PRESS. New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak introduced a bill yesterday that could allow New Jersey casinos and racetracks to “start taking sports bets by September, federal ban or not.” Monmouth Park would be the state’s “first sports-betting parlor.” New Jersey feels the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) “unconstitutionally infringes on states’ rights to raise tax revenue and gives preferential treatment to certain states.” But federal judges have “repeatedly rejected that argument.” The NCAA and all four major sports leagues have “pressed to keep sports betting from spreading beyond Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.” PASPA bans states from “issuing sports betting licenses and otherwise promoting the practice.” But Lesniak said he hopes his bill “allows New Jersey to bypass the ban altogether.” He added that the ban “doesn’t prevent a state from taking a completely hands-off approach to sports betting and letting casinos and racetracks do what they will” (ATLANTIC CITY PRESS, 6/24). Lesniak said that he hoped the U.S. Justice Department “wouldn't challenge” his bill, which “would be consistent with its stance in other areas.” He asked, "Aren't they selling marijuana in Colorado and Washington? Isn't that against federal law?" (AP, 6/23). New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday said he knew it was a "long shot" to get the justices to take the case. Christie: “They don’t give an explanation, so there is nothing to really react to.” Lesniak said he expects his bill to reach Christie’s desk in “30 to 60 days” (Bergen RECORD, 6/24).